Category Archives: This Is Life

This was not my plan

Nineteen months ago, I got on a plane with my 14 year old and we headed south to Guatemala…the great unknown, an adventure, following a dream and a calling.


By Wednesday, day 5 of our trip, I was pretty sure we would write this off as a “learning experience.” An amazing time but I was ready to be back home, back to my comfort zone, back to my own language. I wasn’t sure we would be back. And then this happened…


Sponsorship…and this…something so much bigger…


I can only tell you that in the moment that he hugged me something happened. A hole that I didn’t even know was empty was filled. My heart was wrecked and overflowing at the same time by this young man who has never known a family outside of the orphanage. His, a heart-wrenching story that we didn’t know until after the fact. At a point when I was wondering what I was doing there, feeling like I was floundering, to get an answer to prayer, and be an answer to prayer…God is so good! I didn’t go to Guatemala thinking this would happen. I would have not believed that a 13 year old boy would so capture my heart in the span of seconds. I would not have thought that now I would worry for him, worry for his future in a country that is so poverty stricken. (excerpt from An aching heart)

And then we were home and time passed, and normal-ish resumed it’s dominion. We wrote letters, mailed gifts, and sent prayers heavenward. We nurtured and fostered a relationship despite the miles and language barriers. We were also smack in the middle of navigating having a senior and a freshman, our lives full of wonderful teenage fueled chaos. And then, because God has a sense of humor we moved for the 2nd time in 3 years. (The sight of moving boxes now causes PTSD and I am pretending our storage unit full of I don’t even know what doesn’t exist.)  Smack in the middle of state playoff football, and just weeks before Christmas I was offered an empty spot to go back…


“I’ll go.” “No, I can’t go.” “Ok, I will go.” “No, it’s just not going to work.” This was the back and forth of my recent decision to go back to Guatemala. I had said no to this trip at least 5 times for very valid reasons and yet the opportunity and question “Will you go?” continued to come back around. And then I got an early Christmas gift from Guatemala with a note that read in part “May God bless you for all you have done in my life. I love you very much.” And suddenly none of those reasons mattered anymore. The only thing that mattered was this boy. (excerpt from On Again, Off Again, On Again)

Wheels downs in Guatemala just one year after my first visit…and my number one priority was sitting at the top of the hill. My reason for returning.  I couldn’t wait to see him.  When he came to the door, here was this grown boy, looking eye to eye with me. Still shy, but with a smile for me that made his eyes shine and my mama-heart melt. As the week went on, from across the church or the campus, his eyes would seek mine out and a smile and wave were quick to follow.


What can I tell about this place except that it will break you. This sickening feeling of broken-hearted-joyfulness is one that I just want to hold on to, to not forget, to not let fade, even as the cover lays closed on the photo album and days turn to weeks. God is doing a mighty work within the walls of The orphanage and the walls of my heart. I cannot escape being overwhelmed by that. This is the collective experience of two trips and many a servants’ heart, not only mine. Tears. Lots and lots of tears. Not sweet, leaking eye tears but ugly, crying sobs. Broken hurts but broken heals. My heart has been mended back together, stronger and patched with the tapestry of this beautiful country, the smiles of a group of boys and love from this woven together family. It changes you, being broken, and not everyone will understand it. This shy boy, who’s simple words have shattered me has also shown me a love within myself that I don’t understand. A love I didn’t know I was capable of, a love that is bigger than me and hopes in the impossible. A love that I wasn’t looking for but now can’t imagine living without, whatever that ends up looking like. (excerpt from How Was It?)

And then a door opened, an opportunity to do what I love, a chance to advocate for all of the children living within the walls of the orphanage, a new job, a new adventure, and another trip south only 3 mo after my last visit. God had been busy in that short span of time. Working overtime on the hearts in our household, moving mountains, opening doors before we even had a chance to knock, doing the things that He does best, and the things that only He can do. And of course, my heart almost bust, when once again I laid eyes on this smile.



Nineteen months ago adoption could not have been further from our radar. Today, it is a constant request laid before the Lord. We would love nothing more than to make this “official,” to bring this sweet boy home, to be a forever family in one place, to share his dreams, his fears, to struggle together, share the monotony, the hard days, and celebrate on the good ones. Right now this is still an impossibility as adoption remains closed and my heart is grieved beyond measure.


I see this sweet little face, just after he arrived at the orphanage, and wonder why he has had to wait all these years only to face red-tape and the declaration of “impossible”and I am frustrated and at the same time amazed at what God has been weaving together for the past 15 years, all that He has done to get us to this point in time, standing at the threshold of the unknown, unimagined, unplanned,  that we might play a small part in this God-sized story.

We stand confident that we don’t live under the banner of impossible with God, and that is where we are placing our hope, our faith, and we know that this is not impossible but the clock is ticking ever more loudly these days. I am sharing this today because we need prayer. The only way this will happen is through God’s hand and in His timing and we seem to have hit the wall.  Would you join us in prayer?

Orphan care is just as much about pulling a child out of a broken story as it is about you being pulled into one. You will love more passionately, hurt more deeply, grieve more bitterly and celebrate more joyously throughout the process of caring for vulnerable children than you ever thought imaginable. This is the hard reality of where orphan care begins, where it takes you, what it requires of you and how it will break you. We must be willing to walk down this path, for their sake. As we do, our embracing of their brokenness paints a vivid picture of how Jesus embraced ours. ~ Jason Johnson

No matter what, we are family and in two short days, for the first time we will all be together in one place. I am not sure my heart will survive.

To be continued…

I have plans.

I bought this desk when we closed the store because I knew it would be perfect for inspiring creativity and calm in writing. (I couldn’t believe it’s almost been 6 mo since my last post!) I closed the store 6 weeks ago…writing desk

Monday, one week after we closed the store and moved 1100 sq ft of retail stuff home…Monday, one day after we got home from having set up for a 3 day retreat and recreated the store in a mobile site I made plans.  I was cleaning up the work room and family room (aka dumping ground of Do Good store stuff) when the phone rang.   “I know it’s a long shot but I wondered if you would consider selling your house.”  Excuse me?! What?! Ummmm, let me talk to my husband. Talk. Pray. Talk. Pray.

Wednesday – Yes, we would consider selling our house. Give me a few days to get it ready before you come and look at it. (The caller was an old friend whom we hadn’t talked with in forever so it wasn’t like it was a stranger calling.  The biggest question at that moment though was where we were going to put all of this stuff?!)

Saturday – take the kids and go look at a potential new house that had just come on the market.  Everyone loved the space (not so much the blue counters and wallpaper) but this could work.  It checked the biggest box on the list of having a room big enough to hold our growing crew.

Sunday – go back through the open house. Still like the house.

Tuesday – another call.  “You aren’t going to believe this. There is an offer coming in this afternoon on the house you looked at this past weekend.  What would you like to do?”  Excuse me?! What?! Ummmm, let me talk to my husband. Talkpraytalkpray. And this tiny whisper of a voice asking “Do you trust me?” On this day every prayer for guidance was answered with this whisper of a question.

Let’s do this.  We don’t want to lose another house (that was how we ended up here – in my Never House.)  Every door thus far has been opened for us before we even had to knock on it (including the financing for this crazy idea.)

Tuesday night – the phone again. “Congratulations! They accepted your offer.”  GULP! We looked at each other and said “I think we accidently just bought another house.” Our heads were spinning. We don’t do stuff like this! God was moving on this, and fast, affirming and shoving us through new doors (literally!)  We hadn’t even had a chance to show the old friend who set this whole situation in motion our house yet.

I made plans.  I closed the store because I have a senior and a freshman.  Since the store has been closed I have fed teams breakfast, lunch and dinner, made snack bags, created pinterest locker decorations and treats (for the girls obviously – boys don’t care about cute pinterest crafting.) I have attended games, cheered, held my breath, covered my eyes when I couldn’t stand the pressure, cried bittersweet tears over the whole situation, and prayed like a crazed mama. We have nursed injuries, had x-rays, sat out games, and had moments of glory.  We have written papers, packed lunches, visited colleges, shopped for a homecoming dress (this was a very new experience – boys and formals are so, so, much easier!)  and smiled for pictures.

Oh and did I mention cleaning and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. This is beginning to feel like the movie Groundhog Day.  I made plans. We bought another house because our house was as good as sold. (HA!) The family whose call set this in motion came out and looked at the house. These puzzle pieces would not fit together. “Do you trust me?” Two weeks ago we officially listed our house. Within the first 24 hours we had 10 calls with realtors wanting to set up appointments. We had an open house with over 25 couples and in the last week the house has been shown seven times. “Do you trust me?” I’m more than kind of freaking out and I don’t even know my name half the time anymore and I’m flying by the seat of my pants while we’re feeding the teams and attending the games and making the beds and hiding the laundry. (How is a person supposed to do the laundry, fold the laundry, and put it all away when there is a house showing everyday? Laundry is an all day event at our house.)

And, oh yes, I closed the store. I made plans. This was the original plan.  That was how all of this got started. Yesterday, I began setting up a new “mini studio” in a new space. I was asked to be part of a brand new artesian market place. The concept and space are so cool I couldn’t say no.  Plus, the owner is generously donating a portion of their proceeds back to Love Runners as well!

God's plansI made plans. I was going to take September off and just breathe (my exact words!) I made plans. I was going to sit at my super cute new desk and write.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

I made plans. My plans were safe. My plans were comfortable. But instead of my plans I am choosing trust. And, in doing so find myself leaning into these verses and coming away with the crazy peace that Jesus gives.

“Rather, cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.” Joshua 23:8

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.” Psalms 37:4-5

“The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalms 37:23-24

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

““I am the Lord, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me?” Jeremiah 32:27

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Do you trust me?” Yes.  I am trying very hard to. But some days I just want to make my own plans the agenda for the day, to make the world conform to my timeline. And that is the truth and reality in the situation.

time is right

Just Whatever.

Hey mom, are my socks still in your purse?

Yes.  Yes they are along with your “summer reading” book.  Maybe you would like to read some of that?

No? Yeah, that’s pretty much what I thought.

summer reading
Yep.  That is page 2, 2 days before school starts.

Doesn’t every mom need an extra pair of their children’s athletic socks in their purse? I am also carrying 18 or so football discount cards that need sold/delivered, school supply lists, a bag of trail mix, coupons I never remember to use, and a fistful of receipts that you never know if you might need. But, not one writing utensil. My purse has become the equivalent of a new mother’s diaper bag except for teenagers. I have been a mom for almost 17 years.  Where does time go? We just seem to morph from one stage to the next and they keep coming faster and faster and it’s hard to keep your feet underneath you.

Today is our 12th first day of school and this morning the only back to school tears belong to me. Maybe it is because the dog has explosive diarrhea (sorry if this is oversharing) or maybe it’s because of this.

2016 back to school

jeep hair
Hoods up because jeep hair doesn’t work for school.

This is the first year that I am not the one do the back to school driving.  I am so over this. And before the day has even begun I received a text about a forgotten book from one kid and another with a question about the proper homeroom from the other.  We are batting 1000 already.

Maybe it’s because I am masochistic (like my love for the movies Steel Magnolias and Beaches) but I have watched this video year after year (multiple times already this morning) and every time it makes my heart hurt a little more…I just need to feel all the feels today. And eat more double chocolate butter braid.  Yes, definitely more butter braid.

I want more first days, a lot more. I know they are mine for just a moment, but they are yours for eternity. Keep them safe God, and if you would, just fill in the gaps with the things I forgot to say because I was too busy or too distracted. That would be great. That would be really, really, great.

Wishing you all a wonderful day no matter where this back to school season finds you.



  I am a firefighter. This was not what I said I wanted to be when I grew up. But for the last 3 weeks I have been busy putting out pop-up brushfires that just will not die. And I was not wrong in not choosing this profession.

Living on the fly and adjusting plans at the last moment to accommodate my new firefighting profession has left my pantry empty and my brain an addled mess.

Indulge me while I paint you a picture. Last Friday night we did an amazing thing. The Low Country Boil hosted by Love Runners, Do Good Studio, and Captain Montague’s Bed and Breakfast was a rousing success for the children of Casa Bernabe. (In fact, we had to put a waiting list together for people who want to be first in line to buy tickets to our Black Tie for Black Shoes Christmas event the first weekend of December. More on all of this later.)  IMG_7177IMG_7133

BUT, the days leading up to this event began the outbreak of fires, Dehydration, Faulty Alarms, and Tomorrow’s Celebration. It didn’t stop there though. On the morning of our low country boil my daughter and I ended up in a ditch with only 3 of our 4 car wheels touching the ground. After getting the tents, tables, and decorations set up for dinner a thunderstorm blew through, taking everything (tents included) and throwing them around and drenching them. The day after the dinner we were back in the ER for more blood tests after another post-football health episode. Monday afternoon got lit up when we had to abort our school and grocery shopping because we learned of a moved volleyball practice 10 minutes before it was to start when we were over an hour away (and sitting in the stylists’ chair for a haircut.) The grocery trip that isn’t to be was again thwarted Tuesday by another doctors appointment. Today holds blood tests and tomorrow two more appointments (my funny skin kid, not to be outdone by her brother, has developed a funny skin thing prompting an additional specialist to add to the week’s list.) We’ve had two check engine lights, (one on a rental car!) a leaky tire, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Even now I am forced to type this on my phone because it continues to fail to load on my computer.



As I was making an effort to tidy the piles I have on the counters I picked up a book my two-year old niece wanted me to read to her when she visited two weeks ago, Fervent by Priscilla Shirer. (I probably need to dig out some of the kids old books.) As I absently flipped through it my highlighted passages began jumping out at me and I gained a much needed reminder of how I need to be battling these blazes.

This is war. The fight of your life. A very real enemy has been strategizing and scheming against you, assaulting you, coming after your emotions, your mind, your man, your child, your future. But I say his reign of terror stops here. Stops now. He might keep coming, but he won’t have victory anymore. Because it all starts failing when we start praying.

Success, to him, means stirring up discord in your home, your church, your workplace, your neighborhood, and doing it in such a way that no one’s even aware he’s been in the building. He knows our natural, physical response is to start coming after each other instead of him – attacking, counterattacking, pointing fingers, assigning blame-while he sits out in the driveway monitoring the clamor inside, fiendishly rubbing his hands together, admiring just how adept he is…and what easy targets we are.

If all we’re doing is whacking at the nearest, most visible symptoms every time they pop their head up, we’re doing two things: (1) wasting precious time and energy that ought to be reserved and refocused on the real enemy, and (2) trying to fight ferocious spiritual forces by using weapons that don’t faze them in the least – weapons that aren’t even designed to hurt them.  So the hits just keep on coming.

He wants you to focus on the things that are physical and visible instead of where the action really is. The enemy who’s intent on disrupting the peace in your home doesn’t flinch when you try to force your own fixes upon it, but he does start worrying when a wife, a mother, a daughter, or a sister starts avoiding the noise at the periphery and starts making some noise of her own, right outside the door to the devil’s workshop.

Last Saturday when we came out of the emergency room there was a full double rainbow stretched over the parking lot.  It was a little reminder to me that we weren’t alone in this. God hasn’t forgotten us or the periphery brushfires that keep alighting.  It was also a reminder to me that while I am busy trying to put out the fires  I need to remember Him and not get lost in it all



Dehydration – The Word of the Week

 Fraternities and sororities have a version of it, the Navy SEALS have their version, in our house Monday morning ushered in our own version of Hell Week.  Football and volleyball conditioning began, effectively ending summer and ushering in the fall sports seasons where our lives and schedules no longer belong to us.  Gatorade has been flowing like the Nile River this week and our too often evening trips for Tofts Ice Cream and a walk to the beach have been curbed. Bodies that have been on summer vacation were pushed to their limits.  The very first workout of the week ended up in a trip to the ER for a cocktail of IV fluids, a little something for nausea, and a blue popsicle for good measure. Since then the week has passed quietly, albeit painfully (and with too little ice cream.)  
As we all push through these last few moments of summer it is easy to feel the effects of soul dehydration.  Summer starts out lazily enough with a bucket list of fun to be had and a string of unplanned days stretching out ahead of us.  But, come August we’re exhausted because we have been so busy checking it off, packing it in, and “vacationing” which for us was camping this year, a week’s worth of fun spawned at least 2 weeks of clean-up and we still have a pile of stuff in the garage to be sorted through and put back into it’s designed place. The pace we have been trying to keep to make sure that we pack in as much fun as we can is taking it’s toll.  As moms we have been pouring ourselves out all summer in an effort to meet everyone’s needs and our responsibilities.  And now there’s the whole “back-to-school” thing with list after list staring us in the face demanding more of our time and finances.  

Max Lucado writes, “Dehydrated hearts send desperate messages. Snarling tempers. Waves of worry. Growling mastodons of guilt and fear. You think God wants you to live with these? Hopelessness. Sleeplessness. Loneliness. Resentment. Irritability. Insecurity.

These are warnings. Symptoms of a dryness deep within. Perhaps you’ve never seen them as such. You’ve thought they, like speed bumps, are a necessary part of the journey. Anxiety, you assume, runs in your genes like eye color. Some people have bad ankles; others, high cholesterol or receding hairlines. And you? You fret. And moodiness? Everyone has gloomy days, sad Saturdays. Aren’t such emotions inevitable? Absolutely. But unquenchable? No way.

View the pains of your heart, not as struggles to endure, but as an inner thirst to slake-proof that something within you is starting to shrivel. Treat your soul as you treat your thirst. Take a gulp. Imbibe moisture. Flood your heart with a good swallow of water.”

Here is where the meaning lies in “Run and Be Still.” Run (literally or metaphorically,) be busy if you must, be crazy, but find some time, even (especially) “in the midst” to quiet your mind in the chaos. You don’t have to cease moving to “be still.” Drink deep from the Living Water.

Invite God into the crazy, into the chaos, into the summer fun. This is where something beautiful begins to happen…not just God with us…us with God. Include Him, weave Him into the fabric of your everyday life. I have found that with God’s calming presence, the overbooked and overstretched doesn’t have to result in a “snap.” Life becomes a little more fluid. 

Sometimes in our family we do get wound a little too tight which means we get to practice forgiveness (both giving and receiving.) We can use our failures as teachable moments for grace and mercy and humility. This is where faith intersects with life, where God gets taken off His Sunday shelf, and invited into the present. God with us…us with God. Here you will find refreshment, renewal. He does for your soul what water does for your body. 

Summer’s finish line is in sight. In our house it’s going to be an all out sprint to the finish. We are not going to let summer go gently into that good night! But after the way this week began we will be sure to stay hydrated while we do it! 

Stay thirsty (and hydrated) my friends!

A Season of Transition and Milestones

My heart is a little bit in my throat tonight.  I knew this day was coming and yet I was no where close to ready or prepared.  After hours and hours spent in a car with my son over the last months, tonight, he took the keys and headed out on his own.  Dear Lord, there are just no words…

You see when I look at him this is what I see.  My heart has frozen him here in time.  My little tow-headed guy who had the funniest little smile.

my little man

The changes now are coming so hard and fast.  Blow after blow and every now and again my eyes are opened and I see him for who he is today and it is like a gut shot. He is this amazing person that makes me laugh, challenges my way of thinking, continually inspires me to be a better person and on nights like tonight makes me cry for the passing of time. He is such a good kid and I am so thankful God has blessed us with him!ty grown

The following letter was actually written by Nate Pyle and published on A Holy Experience.  Dear Hurting World: How We Need To Raise Our Sons To Be Man Enough, wonderfully powerful, a version of it is sitting on my son’s pillow for when he brings himself back home this evening. A must read for anyone with young men in their lives.

Hey Son,

If there’s one thing about being a man I can teach you, it is this:

You have nothing to prove. Christ has deemed you worthy.

Do you remember that I drove you to pre-school last year? Do you remember that I held your hand as we walked the hallway to the “parrot” classroom, and that I gave you a hug as your teacher met us at the door?

This year you walked me to the street corner, then you turned to talk with your friends, and finally you waved at me before climbing the steps on the big yellow bus.

You wouldn’t know this, but new parents are told to enjoy the early years of their kids’ lives because they grow so quickly. And wow, I’ve found that to be true with you.

This year you’re stepping onto a bus; before I’m ready, you’ll be stepping across the threshold into a dorm room.

I’m not sure I’ll be ready for that step when you are.

In my mind, it signals something important. It’s a transition to adulthood – at least one of them, anyway. I don’t think any parent is ready to recognize that their children have become adults. But if I can’t be ready for you to become a man, I want you to be fully aware of the pressure you’re going to face along the way.

Every boy making the transition into manhood is scrutinized, questioned, and challenged to prove they’re man enough.

In our culture, manhood is earned. Something has to be accomplished, some award achieved before the title ‘Man’ is hung around your neck. At least that’s what we’re taught.

Win the fight. Do it without crying. Earn lots of money. Get physical with a girl.

Please hear me on this:

Sex doesn’t make you man.

Fighting doesn’t make you man.

Earning lots of money doesn’t make you a man.

Mountain climbing, fixing a car, playing sports, driving fast – none of these things make you a man.

Being a man isn’t about what you do; it’s about who you are.

You are called into the image of Jesus, into the fully human, fully alive life. Be that man – the one who imitates Christ in all he does – not who others tell you to be.

Be that man – the one who imitates Christ in all he does – not who others tell you to be.

Do you remember that baseball game we went to a couple of years ago? We sat just beyond left field in the lawn on blankets, and we stretched out our legs. Do you remember that you began playing with the boys on the blanket next to us? You had brought a toy, the half dinosaur and half robot one, and the boy next to you just stared at it.

You gave it to him to play with and watched with generous pride as the boy played and wondered over it. That was you being you. You see, son, you’re more generous than I am.

I watched you give away your toy freely, but I bet you had no idea my stomach was twisted in knots. Was he going to break it? Was he going to take it?

You being you has taught me so much about me being me.

Generous, compassionate, tender. This is who you are.

You grow into a man when you grow into yourself in Christ. And when you find yourself in Christ, you’ll be a man.

You grow into a man when you grow into yourself in Christ. And when you find yourself in Christ, you’ll be a man.

It’s easy to say, “Be you.” But I’ve found it really hard to do.

You’re going to feel the pressure from every side to be something you’re not.

God gave you a gentle and sensitive heart. Gentleness is a fruit cultivated by the Spirit, but seen as weakness by men.

Our world does not seem to like men who appear weak. Unfortunately, men are often mocked for their weakness by being called women, as if being a woman is less than being a man. You don’t have to be afraid of women, and more than that, you don’t have to be afraid of being seen as weak.

Don’t be afraid of weakness.

Lots of men are afraid of being weak because I think they’re afraid of being less than a man.

Being afraid of weakness is like locking yourself in a prison. It keeps you from trying anything new, or doing anything that requires faith, or admitting your failures.

Here’s the secret, son. Being willing to be seen as weak means you are willing to be vulnerable.

And vulnerability requires an incredible amount of courage.

Men talk about running into burning buildings as courageous, and it is. But so is weakness, risking, and being honest. That’s the kind of courage we see Jesus model again and again. So what seems like weakness to others, is actually a sign of your strength in Christ.

So what seems like weakness to others, is actually a sign of your strength in Christ.

Every man has something they have to hold on to as they resist the pressure to be something they’re not.

Your challenge is to hold on to the characteristics God gave you.

You’ll want to trade them in and try to be like some other guy, but don’t.

Your gentleness is a gift this world needs. Do you know that?

We need more men who are willing to tenderly sit with people who are hurting, and fewer men telling them to shake it off.

We need more men who are willing to find strength in weakness, and fewer men who try to convince everybody that they’re physical strength makes them strong.

We need more men who are willing to leave behind the anxious pursuit to prove themselves as men in order to more fully imitate Jesus.

Take on the hard things of life. Be confident in who you are. Never give up. And when it gets hard and you’re weak and you feel like crying, it’s okay. You have nothing to prove. Jesus taught us that in our weakness we will find His strength.

Resist the temptation to convince your peers of your strength by bloodying someone’s nose. You have nothing to prove. Christ taught us true strength is found in making peace.

Speak the truth when it costs you to say what’s true. Friends may mock you, others may leave you. Stay close to who God made you to be. And when the mocking voices and loneliness set in, you can be sad. It’s okay. You have nothing to prove. Your identity is in Jesus.

Son, there’s nothing to prove because Christ proved it for you. I want nothing more than for you to rest in the grace of God. The Father’s grace that adopts us as sons despite the fact that we are not worthy of that title. Like the prodigal son who has returned home, the heavenly Father places his signet ring on our finger to tell us we belong in his household.

We belong.

Let this truth sink deep down into the recesses of your being: God does not require proof to accept you. All the needed proof comes through Jesus.

No longer is proof required to show that we belong, because we are already accepted. As one reborn in Christ, you are made new, already deemed worthy.

Don’t you see? You have nothing to prove.

God has declared in Christ: You’re already man enough.

There’s No Place Like Home

 Some fun renovation/”never house” facts:
Sweatpants are my new best friend. I live in the woods and can go days without seeing anyone other than my children and husband so sweatpants it is. (This may make me a hermit.)

Also, hats are a great substitute for a haircut. This happened because I had gone 12 weeks between cuts while we were living in moving/renovation mode. (At least it grew through the awkward growing out phase unnoticed.)

We have at least 5 different colored outlets and faceplate covers. I know you might think they only make 3 colors but you would be wrong! And also, they are apparently mix and match!

Finally, we have a new pet. His name is Wally – because that is where he lives. In the wall (or possibly ceiling) in my bedroom. He (or she, species unknown) introduced himself to us at 12:30 am on the first night we stayed in the house. Phil and I were scrambling for our phone flashlights as he scurried across what we then thought was our floor. Frantically whispering, “What was that?!” And the most important question “Where is it?!” That night we heard him run down the length of the room and then a little while later, just as sleep was becoming a possibility again, across above our heads. Not a lot of sleep to be had the first couple nights as he continued to visit. I think we may have gotten rid of him or he has holed up elsewhere in the cold. Either way, living surrounded by nature is really super fun!!

I have been getting asked quite a bit if it feels like home yet. That’s a tough question to answer. I was struggling with what home was supposed to feel like. How am I supposed to feel? When will it not be weird and awkward to talk about our old house and fumble with what to call it, accidentally calling it home, and what to call our new house.

I have spent way too long turning this over and over analyzing all the things home should or shouldn’t be in my head and the most intelligent and witty way to share it.  But in reality I have nothing profound and this really shouldn’t be this hard.(Too many quiet hours spent in my hermitage and sweatpants, I guess. Or possibly all the paint fumes…)

The problem is that home is so many different things at so many different times in our lives. Home starts off with Mom and Dad, it’s where the house shaped picture of home gets formed. One becomes two and a new family, a new home, is born. Home is full of both friends and laughter. The walls will bear witness to both heartbreak and joy. Home is arguments and tears and forgiveness. Home is sometimes far away from where we are currently living, a place our heart longs to return to. Home is both memories and dreams for the future. Home can be a place to launch from or crash into. Its where we start our best days and end our worst ones. It’s built on a foundation of trust and love. Home is a reflection of who we are, constantly being rebuilt with every life change no matter where we live.

This place is now full of our stuff. These walls, decorated with our memories. We have been working hard to put our fingerprints all over it. Earlier this week Mom came over and helped me continue in our quest to get settled. She hung pictures in just the right spot. Rearranged the furniture and decorations just a touch so that it all came together. I knew she would…I was waiting for her, needed her continued influence on my home. And that night when the kids got home Ty walked in and said, “It feels like home.”

So, to answer the question, does it feel like home yet? Yeah…I guess it does. But don’t ask me what that really means…

What does home mean to you?

I am betting you are a little curious about my “never house” and some of our projects here. (I would be. I am nosy like that.) I was awful at taking before pictures. I wouldn’t remember until it was way too late. So here is a little peek at a few afters…


It ended up being a heart thing…

inthewoods.jpgI probably watch too much HGTV.  It seems to have made me believe that I am an expert when it comes to home renovations and that I am pretty much capable of completing whatever creative construction project I can dream up.  I am not afraid of power tools, whatever it takes to get the job done.   We had this crazy idea at the beginning of all of this that maybe flipping houses would be fun…kind of a hobby.  After all, we have skills.  We could totally do it.  Let me just say, 5 weeks in, NO!  No, no, no. Just no. There will be no “renovating for fun” in our future.  Days 1-5 of full time reno were great, then reality set in as did the physical pain of doing the actual work. (Somewhere along the line I got older and my body doesn’t handle what my brain thinks it’s capable of.)  Chip and Joanna Gaines we are not!  But, with the placing of the last piece of wood flooring last weekend our renovation status has officially been downgraded from DEFCON 1 to DEFCON 2.  That just means now we have a massive amount of “small” projects to attend to.  The major ones have all been completed.  Well, kind of.  I still see work everywhere I look.

Have you ever had a change of heart on something? Like something so big that you just said “Nope. Never. Not for me,” and then suddenly one day found yourself staring it directly in the eye as a possibility saying “Everything I thought I knew was wrong.” Personally I think God has a sense of humor and our “never” is basically like a dare to him.  We say never and He laughs and says “We’ll see.  That’s what you think.” Then He proceeds to turn your world upside down, so up is down and down is up and some days you don’t know if you’re coming or going. I’m kidding. It’s not that bad…most of the time. (But basically, to be safe, never say never if you really mean never.  That is super sound theology for you by the way.)

In a nutshell, that’s how I ended up sitting here in my “never house.” Here is where our story (More With Less) continues…

November. “Call me before you get on the plane.  I just had the most insane thought and I can’t help but feel like it has merit.” That was the message I left for Phil as he was headed out of town for a few days. Minutes later he called me back (he may have wished that he just ignored me) and I posed one of the most outlandish questions to him that I have ever asked. (That is really saying something too!) “What if we bought Mom and Dad’s house? I know it’s crazy and you know how I feel about that house and I know how you feel about it but I really feel like this is where God is leading us.  This change of heart about their house has to be a God-thing because I would NEVER have even entertained the idea if it came from my own head.  Don’t answer me right now.  Just pray about it over the next couple of days and let’s talk about it when you get back.” I had to get those words out really fast before he said, “No! You are a crazy woman!” and hung up on me.  This house was the opposite of everything we were looking for but we prayed and we talked to our “knowers.”

(These are the people in my life who know me and can tell it to me straight when I am being ridiculous or affirm my good ideas. These are the people who help provide insight and the wisdom that James 1:5 talks about. These are the people who speak Truth into my life. My “knowers” are the ones who handle my moods and tears, and whiny baby fits, which the grown up in me calls “venting.” And at the end of the day these are my favorite people to celebrate with. My “knowers”…I love you!)

Anyway, one afternoon I felt drawn to stop by the “never house.”  It was sitting empty and I sat on the back deck begging God for some direction.  I felt crazy for being there and even more insane for considering the house. (Again, really not my favorite place and night and day different from what we had and what we were looking for.  We are talking cabin in the woods vs. cute cape cod situated in a quaint downtown.) But as I sat praying and listening this phrase kept repeating in my head. “The desires of your heart.”

So, I went with that…the desires of your heart…and opened up my bible. It lead me straight to Psalm 37 and a passage that I had already fallen in love with.   A passage that was already wrapped up in Run and Be Still, tied inexplicably to this new idea blossoming in my heart, and speaks of “the land” over and over that God is promising to give.  That did it.  Message received. Everything clicked for me and I knew in my heart this was where we were supposed to be. I will tell you, on this day, my eyes were opened to see this house in a way I NEVER had before.  It was going to be ok.  This place could be home.  For the four of us it made perfect sense and absolutely none at the same time.  Clear as mud but with a knowing in our hearts.

The rest, as they say is history.  Our Realtor called on a Thursday morning about a month later to show our house that afternoon (of course, right?! because we lived in a constant state of readiness for buyers-NOT!!) to a couple who was looking for a house that was nothing like ours located in a different neighborhood about 30 min away. But on a long shot he was showing them ours anyway.  With some aerobic cleaning and creative “stuffing” I managed to pull it off, the house was ready, both dogs were taken care of, and I even baked some Christmas cookies for the potential buyers with a shameless note welcoming them to our home and thanking them for taking the time to look at it. (Don’t judge, my “never house” was waiting for me!) They looked at 12 houses in two days and on Saturday afternoon we signed the papers.  Our house was sold! (They said the cookies were what did it.) GULP!!

Clarity comes with passing time. And it wasn’t until last night that realized that “the desires of my heart” hadn’t come out of left field.  I was shocked to read these words (even though they were mine) from September’s post More Than Good Intentions. (Back before this whole crazy adventure even began!)

It’s a terrifying realization when you accept that you would be willing to walk away from your current life, answering the call of “not my will, but thine, be done.” Because these are not my dreams, these are God’s dreams for me.  It’s when you look around and realize that there is so much that you haven’t seen before when viewed through the eyes of Jesus.  It’s when you realize the discontentment you, your husband, and children have been fighting could be for a bigger purpose and you pray for their eyes to be opened to all that you are now seeing.
Just be prepared if you decide to raise your hand and say “Oh, oh! Pick me! Send me!” Chances are good that you will get picked but it will look nothing like what you think it will. I can assure you that when I wrote those words in September, I had no idea where that train was headed!

And that brings me to the second part of this. If God has been tugging at you to do something but you’re hesitant because you aren’t “ready,” it doesn’t make sense, or you don’t have your 36 point plan drafted, proofed and put into place with the end game strategy fully defined, welcome to the club.  John Ortberg says, “…’feeling ready’ is not the ultimate criterion for determining the places you’ll go.  God says, ‘I have set before you an open door,’ not ‘I have set before you a finished script.’ An open door is a beginning, an opportunity, but it has no guaranteed ending. It’s not a sneak peek at the finish. If it is to be entered, it can be entered only by faith.” We had more than our share of raised eyebrows and whispered suspicions from others as to what we were doing and why.

I will tell you though, from my very type-A personality, it’s ok not to have all of the answers.  It isn’t easy, but it’s ok.  And for us, this isn’t “They lived happily ever after in their cabin in the woods.  The End.”  This is just the beginning and I have absolutely no idea where the path on the other side of this door will lead.

show you the door


More with Less


Just over two weeks ago, I turned off the lights for the last time and heard, in the deepest part of my heart, the finality in shutting the door for the last time to the empty house that we had built as our forever home.  I was the last one there.  The kids refused to come back to see it. They didn’t want their last memory of it to be an empty one.  Phil was already in his loaded down car with the last trailer load of mismatched items that hadn’t made the earlier trips.  It had been a sprint to the finish, emptying one house of love and memories and packing them with all of our other belongings to unload in a new place.  On this last night as I drove away my heart was burdened.

Alone with my thoughts I needed a reminder of why we were doing this.  It had gotten so lost in the exhaustion of actually doing of it.  My prayer on this night was “Please God, don’t break our hearts over what we are leaving.  Help us to hold onto your plan for adventure.  Help us keep our eyes on You in all of this. I am still not sure any of this makes any sense.”

Rewind.  October. “I know it doesn’t make sense but I want to do more with less.  I can’t explain it but I feel like it’s time.  Let’s just pray about it and see where it leads.”  This is where all of this mess started, a growing discontentment in “comfortable” and a struggle over apathy and a fear of stepping out and, ultimately, of change.  For months we had been having conversations that found their base in this struggle. We wanted to follow God but when faced with the real task of making big, scary, life-changing decisions we stalled out out.  It was a vicious tail chasing cycle of safe vs faithful in our decision making and we were paralyzed in it.   We had a very nice, status-quo life thing going on that made absolutely no sense to walk away from.  We were settled. We were comfortable and it was nice.  But God…

We finally looked at a house we had been eyeing up for awhile.  It was around the corner from my parents and had been on the market for 6 years.  A house that was extremely overpriced and in need of a good deal of work.  We saw the vision, caught the excitement of a “project house” and put the For Sale sign in front of our own home to follow this path that we believed God was leading us down.  We were all on board. We took a contractor to our new “dream home” to get a project list together and prepare our offer.  All signs pointed to yes, this was the right move…until suddenly they didn’t anymore.  The same night we took the contractor through the owners accepted an offer.  The offer was not ours.  Six years this house had sat on the market, unwanted, and then it sold right out from under our noses! We were finally taking some action and the door was slammed in our faces.

I was so angry! I swore if one person told me that “it just wasn’t meant to be” I was going to scream because I was convinced this was right. (Translation, I was convinced I was right.)  I was so tired of trying to follow God only to have an open door slammed in the 9th hour. It had happened over and over and over in the last couple of months. Pray and listen and step out in faith and follow and WHAM! My head knew the truth. My heart was tired of feeling it. Disappointment is really a crappy feeling, isn’t it? I just wanted to be mad for awhile, to wallow in my frustration. So I did…and I was miserable.  Eventually The Truth penetrated the spiny shell that I had put up and because I had no other choice I let go of my Cape Cod Fixer-Upper dream.

Side Note: This is real life and yes, I was pretty snarky about it.  Here, you will get the unvarnished truth.  You get authenticity and you get the real me and sometimes it’s nasty and ugly and I am not proud of it.  But these are the places we grow and if we pretend that they don’t exist, if we pretend that we don’t struggle, then what’s the point? If that’s the case I am just spinning a fairy tale.

So, with our house on the market we looked at each other and said “Now what?” The short answer was we had no idea and not a lot of hope that our house would sell quickly so “we would cross that bridge when we got there.”

Fast Forward. On this night as I was driving away from our old life God answered my prayer as I remembered this.

“The doors God opens are like this: unlimited chances to do something worthwhile; grand openings into new and unknown adventures of significant living; heretofore unimagined chances to do good, to make our lives count for eternity.” Gerald Hawthorne

Looking back I feel like we were living in gray and these words made life come alive off the page to me.  This is what I think it must feel like to live in color. Doing something worthwhile…living an adventure of significance…having a life that counts for eternity!  This is what I wanted.  This is why we did it.  But in the moment, months ago, what we were doing made no sense and in the following weeks it was going to get even muddier.

To Be Continued…